Born Free Highlights Plight of Captive Cetaceans this Dolphin Awareness Month

Press release

‘Sanctuaries Not Tanks’ campaign calls for an end to the exploitation of captive dolphins, whales and porpoises

Born Free is highlighting the plight of dolphins, whales and porpoises (collectively known as cetaceans) kept in captivity this Dolphin Awareness Month by calling on governments and the travel industry to end cetacean exploitation for entertainment purposes and to advocate the creation of dolphin sanctuaries.

Born Free first exposed the plight of captive dolphins more than 30 years ago. Since then, Born Free has contributed to the closure of the last dolphinaria in the UK, rescued and rehabilitated two bottlenose dolphins and ensured their release back into the wild, and co-founded the World Cetacean Alliance and the Dolphinaria-Free Europe coalition.

Samantha Goddard, Programmes Officer at Born Free Foundation, said: “This month, Born Free will challenge the claims made by the captive dolphin industry, highlight the plight of these intelligent and social marine mammals and expose the truths about dolphin captivity. Our Sanctuaries Not Tanks campaign aims to influence and encourage an end to the exploitation of cetaceans for entertainment purposes, whilst ensuring animals currently in captivity are housed in improved conditions.”

Using a striking image designed by George Logan (above) and promoting an animated #Stop Dolphinaria film, Sanctuaries Not Tanks aims to:

• Promote the truth behind captive cetacean facilities through the #StopDolphinaria film
• Provide the scientific evidence that confirms cetaceans suffer in tanks
• Question the compliance of the captive cetacean facilities with legislative requirements
• Urge governments to phase-out the keeping of cetaceans in captivity
• Encourage tour operators to no longer promote captive dolphin facilities where cetaceans will be used for theatrical, contact or other entertainment purposes
• Advocate the solutions by supporting the creation of seaside sanctuaries and species conservation in the wild.

On 20th February 2017, tour operator Virgin Holidays announced a new position on cetacean captivity. It said that existing captive animal attractions that keep cetaceans for entertainment purposes would need to change their practices to reflect changing consumer tastes, whilst new facilities would not be contracted. Born Free welcomed the announcement, particularly because Virgin Holidays now advocates the creation of coastal sanctuaries for whales and dolphins and the conservation of species in the wild.

Daniel Turner, Associate Director for Tourism at Born Free said: “Our Sanctuaries Not Tanks campaign aims to influence and encourage other tour operators which promote the captive cetacean facilities to the public to follow Virgin Holiday’s lead. The scientific evidence is conclusive: whales and dolphins suffer both mentally and physically from restrictive space and barren environments; commonplace in captivity. Travel businesses can no longer ignore these facts and they must cease to promote the facilities where cetaceans will be used for theatrical, contact or other entertainment purposes.”

Born Free Foundation President, Will Travers OBE, added: “The days of keeping such incredible creatures in captivity are numbered. This Dolphin Awareness Month I urge and encourage members of the public to support our endeavours in securing a future where wild cetaceans can thrive in their natural habitat for generations to come.”

Members of the public can support Sanctuaries Not Tanks by:

• Making a pledge to not visit dolphinaria or swim with captive dolphins
• Joining Born Free’s Team POD
• Making a donation to the Sanctuaries Not Tanks campaign
• Adopting Muddy the dolphin
• Adopting Springer the orca.

Sanctuaries Not Tanks campaign:

Dolphin Awareness Month runs from 1st-31st March 2017.

Image © George Logan

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